Planning During Uncertainty

DEFINE THE REAL GOAL OF YOUR BUSINESS …then make sure the activities in your business are aligned around that goal.

Strategic planning during these changing times can be done by asking “What won’t change?”… then build & plan around that…like “stay customer obsessed”. Plans need to adapt in real-time to the ultimate vision or future looking to be realized. Think from the outcome realized & work your way back. To paraphrase George S. Patton, a good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan next week…TAKE ACTION…get started…adjust as you go & as new information or opportunities become available.

Many studies have concluded that the vast majority of strategic planning fails, up to 67% actually. In part because the traditional way of thinking about strategic planning is totally backwards. Strategic planning was initially invented to provide a step-by-step plan to managers and doers within businesses to ensure they get it right. But turns out giving someone a plan is far less effective than aligning your team on a vision or endpoint. Meaning getting people clear on where they need to go as the starting point. That’s the difference between strategic planning (analysis) and strategic thinking (synthesis).

Businesses grow, they shrink, and they evolve over time. In order to execute brilliantly, the strategic plans need to adapt in real-time to the ultimate vision or future looking to be realized. Think from the outcome realized and work your way back. Most people, when strategizing for the future, think in linear terms. “We are here and we need to get there,” with “there” representing their long-term goals. Try flipping that model on its head. Strategic planning requires a series of outcomes not from the present to the future, rather, from the future back into the present — as “future-back thinkers”. Others may refer to it as reverse engineering. Starting from the endpoint and working your way back is a highly effective way of designing a roadmap to realize the strategy or future you intend. And as a practice, reverse engineering of many different pathways can usually get you to the same place.

Integrated Business Plan Development

Think of business planning in terms of five overlapping interrelated circles shown above. The typical plan process is represented by the two big circles on the right.  Many businesses just look at last year goals and apply the business constraints to yield their business plan.  The Integrated Strategic Planning Real-Time Process starts with the center circle and then adds the two big circles on the left before overlaying them onto the two big circles on the right. This planning process yields a complete and in-depth picture of your business for you, your employees, customers, and investors.

For more thoughts on an integrated planning process, view the free video entitled Business Plan Development Session 1

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